TAC Talk: Timon Screech

The untold story of England’s attempt to sway Japan’s first shogun.

A professor of history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Timon Screech visits the Club this month to expound on the little-known journey of two English ships told in his newest book, The Shogun’s Silver Telescope: God, Art and Money in the English Quest for Japan.

Sent by King James I to the court of the then-retired shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the centerpiece gift, a silver-gilt telescope, was meant both as a present of ornate renown as well as a political tool to undermine Protestant England’s Catholic rivals who were still teaching a geocentric model of the solar system.

“The point about a telescope is that anyone using it can see that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around,” Screech says. “The English are basically telling the Japanese: ‘All these things the Jesuits have been telling you for the last 50 years are all wrong.’”

Attendees receive one free drink ticket


  • Doors open: 6:30pm
  • ¥1,500 (virtual attendance: ¥500)
  • Copies of The Shogun’s Silver Telescope available for ¥3,700

Photo: Timon Screech (left) with former UK Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens

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